NBI won't release WellMed co-owner despite court order

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2019 02:10 PM | Updated as of Jun 15 2019 05:58 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has refused to release the co-owner of a dialysis center implicated in an alleged ghost claims scandal despite a court order after he posted bail.

Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 6 Judge Jerome Jimenez directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to release Dr. Bryan Sy, co-owner of WellMed Dialysis Center in Quezon City, who is accused of ordering his former employees to make dialysis treatment claims from state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on behalf of dead patients.

The order came after Sy, through his lawyer, posted a P72,000 bail. The court, in its order, said that although no information or criminal charge has been filed against Sy, the rules allow him to post bail.

But as of this posting, Sy remains in NBI custody as the agency has refused to release him.

Sy’s lawyer Rowell Ilagan said the NBI was "duty-bound" to comply with the court order.

An NBI official who refused to be named said there are procedure and approvals that need to be followed by the agency's Security Management Section before a detainee could be released.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a text message said he would check on the issue.

"It is possible that Sy posted bail for one count only," he said.

ABS-CBN News is still trying to get an official statement from the NBI.

Sy was arrested while attending an NBI probe on Monday. On Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted him along with former employees Edwin Roberto and Leizel Aileen de Leon for estafa through falsification of official documents.

Roberto and De Leon had bared the alleged WellMed racket, alleging that it made P800,000 in ghost PhilHealth claims from 2016 to 2018.

Sy on Thursday wrote Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and NBI Director Dante Gierran to demand his release because his detention has exceeded 36 hours.

Under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, authorities have a maximum of 36 hours to detain a suspect without filing any charge in court.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it is evaluating his request but Guevarra said nothing prevents Sy from posting bail before the filing of information in court.

Sy also earlier questioned the validity of his arrest but both a Manila court and the DOJ rejected his contention.

In arresting Sy without warrant on Monday, the NBI explained that it was justified as a case of "hot pursuit," which allows warrantless arrests “when an offense has just been committed” and the arresting officer “has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.”